Lionsgate has begun taking the crucial steps required to making Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management a reality, a process that unfortunately involves getting people other than Charlie Sheen to work on it—always a stumbling block for any Charlie Sheen-related project. Nevertheless, The Hollywood Reporter claims that there really are already three established producers currently contending for the job of showrunner and Sheen foil. Not surprisingly, all of them have their own past experiences working with troubled sitcom stars, which should help.
One of them, current The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson writer Tom Straw (whose credits also include Cosby, Night Court, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose), has even inherited the wind from Chuck Lorre before, having stepped in to produce Grace Under Fire during its final, flameout season when star Brett Butler struggled with painkiller addiction. Ditto The Drew Carey Show co-creator Bruce Helford, who became executive producer on Roseanne right after Lorre left, and got to experience all the fun of The Tom Arnold Years there. Chris Case may have the most pertinent credentials, having spent a year on Spin City overseeing its shaky transition to the Charlie Sheen era. And he also worked on Reba, where whispered legend has it that Reba McEntire used to respond to scripts she didn’t like by lighting the writers on fire, or, if it were particularly egregious, drowning homeless people. (Of course, that’s probably just showbiz gossip.)
Anyway, while all of these people have their war stories and thus seem appropriately battle-scarred, one still has to wonder: Why would you take on the task of engineering a comeback for a man who turned his last relationship with a showrunner into a months-long scorched-earth campaign, let alone one that involves adapting a mostly forgotten Adam Sandler movie to television? According to those producers’ agents, it’s the economy, stupid: “It’s a job,” one of them is quoted as saying, “and potentially a long-running one.” It’s rare that a sentence sounds both totally defeated and overly optimistic, but there it is.